Families digusted at theft of plaques

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A TOTAL of almost 60 plaques were stolen from memorial benches in the borough.

Last week the News Guardian reported on the thefts from an area between North Shields and Tynemouth.

The council has said it will replace the plaques.

But families who made the donations are disgusted with the actions of the thieves.

A plaque on a bench at Collingwood monument in memory of Eric and Barbara Davies, of Tynemouth had been in place since 1998.

Eric had been an active lifelong member of Tynemouth Village Association.

He and wife Barbara had also raised thousands of pounds for children’s charity UNICEF.

Friends and neighbours, as well as his godson in Poole, Dorset, raised the money to purchase the seat.

Joyce Jewitt, retired secretary of the village association, who was responsible for the placing the seat, said: “I am saddened to think that whoever has committed this heartless and senseless act has given no thought to the upset caused to the families involved.

“It is just as bad as desecration to a grave.

“I hope anyone who has been offered the metal plaques will think twice about receiving them.”

Sheila Davidson, of Wallsend, had a plaque on one of the benches in memory of her parents.

She said: “It’s not very pleasant.

“We kept the bench clean and had flowers on it regularly, and when friends and family were out for walks they would sit on it.

“It’s about discipline and it’s really sad that someone could do that.”

A plaque dedicated to David Ovington, who died suddenly in 2005, was also taken in the theft.

Fifty-year-old David, of North Shields, was sailing on Lake Windemere when the suffered a brain aneurysm and died.

His father Derrick, 83, said: “It’s a reflection of society.

“It’s quite sad, and even though I can replace it, it is sad that we are living in such a world that would bother to do that on somebody’s memorial.”

A North Tyneside Council spokesman said: “In total we have identified that 59 plaques have been stolen in the Tynemouth area, mainly in the lower promenade, from the Fish Quay to King Edward’s Bay.

“We are currently in the process of identifying the affected families and expect to send out a letter to them, informing them of the situation, by the end of the week.

“Meanwhile, we are exploring the use of plastic based materials for the replacement plaques to prevent such thefts happening again.

“Our target is to have the plaques replaced by the end of the month.”

Police investigating the theft are still appealing for witnesses to the incident.

Sergeant Steve Nicholson, of North Shields neighbourhood policing team, said: “We have been carrying out enquiries into this theft, which has been very upsetting for the families involved, and has also saddened people within the wider community.

“So far we have not been able to recover the plaques but enquiries are continuing.

“It must have taken a considerable amount of time for thieves to remove the plaques, which were firmly attached to memorial benches, and people may have passed by and not realised they were witnessing a crime.

“If you were in the area of the promenade at North Shields and Spanish Battery in Tynemouth last week and saw anyone acting suspiciously around the memorial benches please contact police straightaway.

“Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 03456 043043 ext 69191 or they can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.”